Big setback for India’s drone and missile program; ‘Made In India’ Manik engine fails crucial test

The DRDO’s Indigenous Technology Cruise Missile (ITCM) project reportedly suffered another setback after its locally developed Manik turbofan engine failed to ignite after launch during a test at the Integrated Test Range (ITR ) on Friday, October 28, 2022.

New Indian Express reported, citing officials, that the engine developed “technical problems” after the post-launch boost phase, causing the missile to crash into the sea within 30 seconds of launch.

“The engine was supposed to start after the initial liftoff of the purpose-built mobile launcher. But it didn’t start, maybe because of a hitch. The system then failed,” said a defense scientist.

Manik engine

The Gas Turbine Research Establishment (GTRE), Bengaluru, is developing the Manik engine, a 400 kg thrust class small turbofan engine (STFE) for the propulsion needs of subsonic unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

The generic twin-barrel motor is designed and developed for short life. It is a consumable engine that should last the flight time of the drone or cruise missile it powers.

For starters, the engine will power the ITCM cruise missile.

The Manik turbofan developed by DRDO. (Image: DRDO)

It was previously proposed to develop 5 engine sets for development testing and 3 engine sets for Nirbhay integration to be carried out by M/s BrahMos Aerospace Thiruvananthapuram Limited (M/s BATL).

Manik features include engine-mounted FADEC system, on-board gas generator for engine starting and integrated alternator.



425 kgf (IAS, SLS)

Bypass rate

1.0 ± 0.05

Dimensions L x Diameter

950mm x 350mm



SFC (kg/kgf/h)



100 kilograms

Engine accessories



During an interview in November 2021, DRDO Chief Sateesh Reddy said: “We have designed, developed and manufactured a small turbofan engine for unmanned aerial vehicle applications with the support of Indian industry .

The engine has completed ground design validation testing and is currently undergoing experimental flight testing.

Upon successful flight testing, derivatives of these engines will be manufactured for a variety of unmanned aerial vehicle applications, making the country “Atmanirbhar” in this complex and critical technology.

The Manik would have been flight tested in October 2021. The test was partially successful. The engine worked as expected, but the missile did not reach the desired distance.

A flight test of the Manik in October 2020 was reportedly halted due to technical issues.

Ground trials of the Manik have been successfully completed. In May 2018, DRDO scientists tested a prototype of the engine at an altitude of over 11,600 feet as part of high altitude cold climate testing that began in February 2018.

After the test, a DRDO official said, “The successful demonstration validated the design, material selection and control logic used for lighting and motor acceleration at minimum sustained speed. pyro were as expected.


At DefExpo 2020, DRDO announced the completion and closure of Project Nirbhay and the launch of the Indigenous Technology Cruise Missile (ITCM) project based on the technology developed for Project Nirbhay.

The ITCM differs from the Nirbhay. First, it is powered by the indigenous Manik and not the Russian Saturn 36MT. Second, it has an RF seeker.

The first tests of the ITCM equipped with the Manik engine and an RF seeker developed by RCI Hyderabad were then to be carried out in April 2020.

It is also proposed to develop aerial and underwater variants of the ITCM.

  • Vijainder K Thakur is a retired IAF Jaguar driver. He is also an author, software architect, entrepreneur and military analyst. PERSONAL VIEWS
  • Contact the author at vkthakur(at)

Ryan H. Bowman